White Cotton Gloves and Clip-on Ties

Around 6th grade, our grade took ballroom dancing classes once a week in the evening. There were a lot of kids who were nervous, uncomfortable and awkward.  Yet it was exciting, too.

The girls wore good dresses.  Fancy dresses, Sunday best dresses.  We wore shiny, black patent leather shoes with white, lace trimmed socks.  We were taught how to sit properly with back straight, hands folded, one white cotton glove atop the other.  Our ankles had to be straight, touching the floor, or better yet, crossed.  NEVER could we have one foot crossed on the opposite knee.

The boys wore dress pants, button-down shirts, sports coats and their good shoes.  And clip on ties of course.  I don’t remember them having any ankle rules, but there was no fidgeting allowed for them.

We learned how to curtsy.  I had a leg up in that department as I was curtsying as long as I can remember.  It is so ingrained in me that a few years ago, at the age of 60, I curtsied automatically to a new school district Superintendent who surprised me with a visit to my classroom.  I was wearing jeans.  And was very embarrassed.  It was a completely automatic response and I hadn’t curtsied in many decades.  I think that she wondered if I was being a little rude.

The dance instructor lined the boys up on one side and the girls on the other.  We would be paired up with the boy lined up in the same spot on the other side.  Some jostling ensued with the girls trying to be across from either a boy we thought was cute or a boy that wouldn’t tread on our feet too much.  Did the boys plan their spot in the line as well?

The music began and we stepped onto the dance floor with our partners.  The box step was the first one we learned.  It was amazing to me that some kids had trouble with it (hence getting stepped on).  If you knew what a square was and could count, it was a snap.  Of course, we had to do that in rhythm to the music but it was easy for me.

My smugness ended the moment the Cha Cha was introduced.  I remember the instructor telling us to stop looking at our feet.  Got it.  No looking at feet.  Maintain good posture.   Count.  Be aware of our partners.  Don’t step on toes.  Don’t crash into anyone. Phew.  I finally got it.

I remember sneaking looks at my partners’s faces.  We were supposed to look over their right shoulder.  Which was difficult to do if we were both looking at our feet.

What I had no idea of at the time, was that these lessons would not have much, if any, impact on my future.  I can ballroom dance but never have since then.  And I still have bad posture.

An outfit worthy of dance class.


With wonderful memories of white cotton gloves and clip-on ties.


About Barb Knowles

The things that are important to me are family, friends, teaching, writing, languages and using my sense of humor to navigate this crazy world. Please join me on this blogging adventure...
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29 Responses to White Cotton Gloves and Clip-on Ties

  1. I used to love our dance classes at school, which sadly were very few and far between. I always played ‘the man’ as I was one of the tallest in my class, but we never had a prom or cotton gloves and clip on ties. How I wish we did. I had a pair of black patent shoes though, but no frilly white socks. Memories. Even more so of watching my Dad gently take my Mum’s hand and lead her onto the dance floor where they did the two-step and waltz to perfection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      That’s a lovely memory that I don’t have of my parents. I don’t know how many weeks our dance classes were. Just the memories I recounted here. Prom was much later and danced to “regular” music of the time…rock, pop, etc. Pretty dresses though. I hated the white socks, though. Itchy. But I loved the gloves. I felt very grown-up.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. stomperdad says:

    Sounds alot like calculus… “when are we ever going use this?” Great story. Our high school students get a brief lesson on ballroom dancing during their senior year for graduation. I love watching them learn.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    I never had any of that ‘proper’ training, but I am grateful I was still able to have a home-ec class before they got rid of them. That’s where I learned to sew and bake (though I didn’t really know how to cook until I taught myself after having kids). I think both boys and girls should take it. I also think they should require shop class for both genders. How happy I’d be if I knew something about an engine or how to build a simple cabinet! (And yes, I suppose I could learn now, but ain’t nobody got time for that.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      I’m with you on the Home Ec and Shop classes. Now they have to go to the vocational school for that. And there is no home ec the way we knew it. But they can learn to be chefs. Culinary Arts is a much better skill. I always got stuck with doing the dishes because I wasn’t “popular.”


      • Carrie Rubin says:

        Oh, now that’s sad. 😦 I wasn’t popular either (I was the quiet introvert who was nearly invisible), but I was never made to do the dishes other than my own with my home-ec partner.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Barb Knowles says:

        It really wasn’t as sad as it sounds, lol. I had such low self-esteem (that’s the part that is actually sad) that I couldn’t speak up for myself. All of a sudden I went to college and blossomed. I wasn’t introverted ever, just careful not to get my feelings hurt as much as possible.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ann Coleman says:

    I doubt of kids even know what a curtsy is anymore, but we were taught how to do that too. The ballroom dance class sounds rather fun! So many of the things we were taught in school didn’t seem necessary after we graduated, but other things did….the problem was, at the time we didn’t know the difference!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      That is so true. I’ll be writing a post later about that exact topic. And how we never know what the future will bring. Or, when you and I were young, what we thought it would bring versus what it really brought, if that makes sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ann Coleman says:

        Makes absolute sense! The future is so hard to predict, so I try to just think, “well, this has value now” and leave it at that. Because with the wold changing so fast, who knows what will and will not be relevant?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. dawnkinster says:

    In 6th grade they taught us square dancing. We had to choose partners. It was awful. I haven’t danced since, which makes weddings agony. I should learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Barb Knowles says:

      When I go to weddings, we only dance what I would call normal dancing. No line dancing, formal dancing, just some slow dances (as I say to my husband, just turn in a slow circle, lol) and the way one would normally dance to rock and pop music. The only other time I dance specifically is when I go to a wedding of my Latin America and Caribbean friends. I can do the bachata but never learned salsa or merengue.


    • Barb Knowles says:

      And I hated square dancing too.


  6. hehehe I can obviously forgive a few of your oversights on the boys end of this cruel and inhuman torture. In addition to wearing clothes that didn’t fit, we had to brush BOTH our hair and our teeth. There was the no cussing rule ofc, and also, we even had to dance with the gross girls like Wendy and Ethyl who were way bigger than we were and stepped on our toes on purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. gingerbread76 says:

    I once went to a wedding where most of the wedding party had grown up in dance and tap classes together (boys and girls). It was pretty cool watching them dance at the reception. I always wished I’d had the opportunity to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Paul says:

    I just realized I hadn’t read this one yet. A few summers ago at camp one counsellor tried to teach me how to dance. Wasn’t that bad, though all we did was move our feet back and forth and spin each other. I’m a pro.

    Liked by 1 person

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